Cato and Vaughan: We love your TV show and your columns in The Globe and Mail. I was watching Car/Business last Saturday where Cato said he likes only 80 per cent of the Lexus coupe. I agree with him because I too cannot accept the god-awful spindle grille. So here's my question: I drive a 2011 Lexus GS350 and I trade every three years. My problem is, do I fork out bigger money for the new Mercedes E-Class, should I consider the new upcoming Infiniti G or swallow my pride and buy 80 per cent of the Lexus coupe? – Norm in Toronto
Cato: Listen up, Norm: the LF-CC concept car at September's Paris auto show is an overwrought expression of the new Lexus design language. Call it automotive design inspired by Jack Nicholson's Joker lips from the Batman movie. But it's a concept car.
Various reports say the LF-CC will morph into a coupe version of the GS sedan by the summer pf 2014. Norm, you can't buy it.
Vaughan: Stop the world. The Great Cato has spoken. I'm sure that as our show was being broadcast, an emergency meeting was called at Toyota headquarters in Japan and the designer of that grille was sacked on the spot. Such is Cato's influence.
Cato: Not sacked. Disciplined, perhaps re-educated and sent into exile.
And all that means I am doing my job. Pay attention; you might learn something, Vaughan. Car companies unpack show cars to gauge reaction to new ideas. Sometimes they get a green light, sometimes not. Not for the LF-CC grille.
Vaughan: Yes, the Lexus coupe was a concept. Cato, in his infinite wisdom, is right to say that, if it becomes a production model, who knows what the thing will look like. Maybe they slapped that ridiculous nose on it to get people talking about it instead of their latest multi-million-vehicle safety recall. That's Toyota's big problem, not grilles.
Cato: Again, I wish you would do your job – to explain this business and its cars, rather than try to be amusing in a snarky way that muddies the waters.
Look, car companies from Tokyo to Detroit to Munich and points in between are pounding out safety recalls all over the place and for the slightest thing. Not just Toyota. The lawyers are dictating this stuff now.
It's like when you're on an Air Canada flight and you hit just the tiniest bit of turbulence. Wham! On goes the "seatbelt" sign. Even if you're in the toilet, you're ordered to postpone your business and race back to your seat. Cinch up tight. We have become a society governed by fear in general and the fear of litigation in particular. I blame it on television, the Internet, George W. Bush and you, Vaughan.
Vaughan: Huh? The only thing I understand about you, Cato, is that you're right to say there's no point trading in a 2011 GS until the new one arrives – the coupe Norm wants. As for the "new, upcoming Infiniti G," I haven't seen it either because it hasn't been launched and Infiniti ain't talking. They want to sell what's on the dealer lots right now.
But what's wrong with the current Infiniti G coupe? I love it. This, of course, is the Japanese BMW and I'm sure you'd find it a pleasant surprise after the Lexus GS, particularly if you spring for the G coupe. I'm sure there are a few 2012s lying around on dealer lots and at a base price of $46,800, the rear-drive G coupe is a good buy.
Cato: You're wrong again. It's a great buy.
To clear out those leftover 2012s, Infiniti has slapped on at least a $5,000 factory-to-dealer discount. That on perhaps the most under-appreciated car in its class. Handles like a dream. Great deals, too. Go for the current G, Norm; take the deal.
Vaughan: No. If you want a real car, get the Mercedes E-Class. Solid and comfortable and loaded with safety features. I wish they offered the coupe with the BlueTec diesel – and what a stupid name that is – but they don't. So Norm, get the 350 diesel sedan. There, I said what Mercedes cannot bring itself to do – call diesel what it is, diesel, not some blue thing.
Norm, see if you can find a leftover 2012. It stickers for $62,700, versus $65,600 for the 2013. Whichever, the diesel gets much better fuel economy than the gas, plus it's a smoother highway driver.
Cato: Vaughan likes Mercs; he craves status symbol cars, though he won't use his own money to buy one.
Norm, why no BMW coupe? The 328i, the 2012, lists for $44,300 and, if you can find one, BMW has thousands in cash-back money on the table.
Vaughan: Norm, you could hang on to your Lexus until you see a coupe with the new grille. But if you insist on sticking to your three-years-and-out plan, the Infiniti G is the way to go.
HOW THEY COMPARE
|2012 Infiniti G37 Premium coupe||2012 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC sedan||2012 BMW 328i coupe|
Track, front (mm)
|3.7-litre V-6||3.0-litre V-6, intercooled turbo diesel||3.0-litre I-6|
|330/270 lb-ft||210 hp/400 lb-ft||230/200 lb-ft|
|rear-wheel drive||rear-wheel drive||rear-wheel drive|
|seven-speed automatic||seven-speed automatic||six-speed manual|
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
|11.0 city/7.4 highway||9.4 city/5.9 highway||10.8 city/7.0 highway|
Base price (MSRP)
Source: car manufacturers
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.